‘Bless the Lord , O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord , O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. The Lord performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. ‘ Psalms 103:1-13
For the past week I’ve been running into a repeating theme of grace and counting blessings. Far too often in life, we find ourselves focusing our thoughts and energies on what we don’t have rather than expressing appreciation and gratitude for that which we are given. This is something that I have been keenly aware of ever since my journey through kidney failure and the resulting transplant. When one is faced with challenging and tumultuous times, we tend to allow our minds to focus on the negative. We focus on what’s been taken, pain that’s befallen us, and the perceived “wrong” and “unfairness” of the situation. I think that’s natural and understandable. However, if you profess to be a disciple of Jesus, you are no longer to react as a natural man, you are born again into a new creation and our response in such situations needs to be as such.
I will illustrate what I mean through an example from my own life. Shortly before my kidneys failed, landing me in the hospital, and my odyssey down the road to transplant began, my wife moved out. We separated and I no longer had the one person I truly wanted by my side, walking alongside me through the most trying ordeal of my life. For a period of time, this was a very difficult reality to understand and accept. I was consumed by the lack of presence and support from the one I believed should be there first and last, before all others. I resented her for it. I was angry. Most people would say, “justifiably so”. I’m not really sure when, exactly, it happened, but at some point, Jesus steered my gaze and focus from the lack of my wife’s presence to the presence of those who had been there from the onset of this odyssey. He illuminated the fact that I was surrounded, supported, loved, encouraged and cared for by an enormous cast of friends and family. They came alongside me in my darkest hour, in many instances putting their needs, wants and lives on hold to ensure that I was lifted up in whatever way I needed. It was in this moment of illumination and conviction that I realized how truly blessed I was. It was at this moment that I recognized that while my focus and energy was directed at what I didn’t have, I completely missed all the blessings that others were raining down upon me. I had unwittingly failed to appreciate all of those who were gifting me with so much of themselves and truly displaying the love of Jesus. I’m not proud of this failing on my part, nor will I try to justify it in any worldly way. Rather, I will say, “thank you, Jesus, for Your revelation, Your love, Your compassion, and Your provision of the blessings so generously and without reserve poured out from Your heart and hands through the loving and faithful friends You so graciously provided”. This revelation also opened my heart to understanding of the possible ‘why’ of her absence and a willingness to let go of resentment, anger, and to fully forgive. I had a new focus, a focus for those that are there, an appreciation of the blessings and an opportunity to joyfully move forward.
The impact of that revelation has forever altered my perception in difficult situations. It has offered perspective and allows me to focus on that which truly matters, appreciate the blessings and honor the sacrifices of those that show up. It also has opened my heart to a measure of the grace and forgiveness that Jesus so freely extends and would see the same extend from us. Have a blessed weekend.
‘Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. ‘ James 1:16-18
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy